Passengers travelling with British Airways today face significant delays as yet another IT glitch caused serious problems with the airline’s check-in systems around the world.
Travellers across the UK and U.S. have already complained of lengthy queues due to the technical problem, and passengers are warned the heavy delays may continue.
It is the latest in a series of technical glitches with BA’s new ‘FLY’ check-in system which was rolled out in June in a bid to speed-up passengers’ journeys. However, the system has been besieged by problems with five serious malfunctions in just three months causing huge delays to thousands of passengers around the globe.
Pictures of the chaos posted online today show passengers stranded with their bags at check-in desks in major airports around the world including London Gatwick, Heathrow, Edinburgh and Newcastle in the UK, and Chicago O’Hare International Airport, San Francisco, San Diego, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Atlanta and Seattle in the US.
The ‘worldwide computer glitch’ is also causing problems in the Bahamas, Mexico City, Amsterdam, Toronto, Berlin, Vienna, Rome and Durban, South Africa.
One irate passenger said his ‘five hour delay’ was ‘unacceptable’ as a BA spokesman confirmed the check-in process at the British airports was ‘a bit slower than usual’.
British Airways began installing its new system at airports across the world in October and the roll-out was completed around two months ago.
BA, which is run by parent company IAG after it merged with Spanish giant Iberia in 2011, is in the process of cutting costs, including across its IT department.
However, the new IT system has caused a host of problems with workers complaining that it crashes ‘all the time’. One source claimed earlier this year that check-in staff have even been reduced to tears by regular glitches.
The latest computer glitch is the fifth BA systems failure in just over three months, with similar problems on June 19, July 7, July 13 and again on July 18.
Earlier on today, Ewan Crawford, of Glasgow, told how he was stranded at Chicago’s International Airport.
He tweeted: ‘Never a good sign when they deliver water to the gate! Waiting at ORD for @British-Airways 296. Worldwide computer outage apparently! Hmm.’
Michelle Poole added: ‘4 hrs delayed & still @ gate. Baggage loading machine broken. Check in system crashed. @BritishAirways you can do better than this.’
Another passenger, flying from Scotland, complained of the delays ahead of her flight to London’s Heathrow.
She wrote: ‘Shocking service this am checking in for LHR. Even had to look after a sick passenger cos of the long wait to check in,’ before sharing a number of ‘angry face’ emojis.
Another passenger stranded at Toronto Airport in Canada said: ‘I guess the check in application is down and it’s worldwide.’
Matthew Walker said he waited for more than two hours to board his flight back to London’s Heathrow Airport from San Francisco overnight.
The 29-year-old financial analyst, who lives in London but is originally from Australia, checked in online before arriving to catch his flight but said staff on the ground could not access their computer systems to see which passengers had gone through security.
Speaking from the airport, he said: ‘People were lining up, some had already checked in and got through security, but others, when this thing happened, whatever it is, were stuck in the check-in queue.
‘So they (the staff) have the problem that they didn’t know who had already gone through the gate because all the systems literally just had a meltdown, basically.’
Meanwhile, one passenger shared a letter on Twitter which appeared to have been handed out by British Airways staff to passengers hoping to travel to London Heathrow from San Francisco today.
It said the airline had been forced to switch to a ‘manual’ check-in process after the IT glitch wiped out its entire online system – meaning all passengers would be checked-in by hand.
The letter said: ‘Please accept out apologies for the delay to check-in today. At this time we are experiencing problems with the computer systems.
‘As a result, in order to continue to check-in, in absence of the computer system, we will be using a manual fallback process.
‘Once we begin, check-in will be slower than normal, as information has to be recorded by hand.
The airline added: ‘We have been in contact with the relevant departments who are doing all they can to rectify the problem as soon as possible. However, we are unable to ascertain a time when we might expect the systems to be functional again.
‘Whilst we endeavour to provide as close to a normal service as possible there are some aspects that we will not be able to fulfill, such as seat changes after check-in, we as for your understanding with this please.’
British Airways also took to Twitter to assure passengers it was doing ‘everything possible’ to resolve the problem, although it was unable to confirm when it would be fixed.
A spokesman said: ‘We apologise to our customers for the delay and we appreciate their patience as our IT teams work to resolve this issue.
‘Our colleagues are doing everything possible to check in customers for their journey.’
The airline was still suffering technical issues at 6.15am. It added on Twitter: ‘Hi there, our IT team are continuing to work behind the scenes to resolve the issue.
‘In the meantime our outstations are doing all they can to support our passengers locally, and check-in has been enabled at some airports.’
Staff with clipboards were writing manual boarding passes for passengers, one delayed traveller at Seattle Airport said.
A BA spokesman confirmed passengers were being checked in at London Heathrow and Gatwick but said the process would be ‘a bit slower than usual’.
Asked where the IT problems are, the spokesman said: ‘It is patchy.’
Passengers at Heathrow Terminal 5 reported waits of about 45 minutes to check-in.
Elaine and Paul Barnett, who had come from Sheffield to travel to Sardinia, said the process had taken ‘longer than usual’ and they had been required to give extra details once they reached the desk.
‘You really have to get here early and expect that it’s busy,’ Ms Barnett said.
Meanwhile, Patrick Darby, from Dulwich, who was travelling to Russia, said he had not kept track of how long the queue had taken.
‘There was a hold-up when nothing seemed to happen but that has eased up now,’ he said.
A BA spokesman added to MailOnline: ‘We would encourage customers to check-in online before they reach the airport.
‘We had a problem with our check-in systems which affected check-in for flights from the US. The check in system is now working and customers are being checked in as normal in London and overseas.
‘It affected a number of our airports but we are now checking in normally.’
The technical glitch comes just months after British Airways bosses were told their new computer check-in system, called FLY, was ‘not fit for purpose’.
A survey by GMB of 700 staff in June found that 89 per cent said training was poor, 94 cent suffered delays or system failures and 76 per cent said their health had suffered because of stress or anger aimed at them by frustrated passengers.
Last month, TV presenter Phillip Schofield had an online meltdown after missing his British Airways flight on one of the busiest flying days of the year.
The TV star, 54, waited for two hours after the airline’s check-in computer system stopped working at the flagship Terminal 5 at London’s Heathrow, before having to go home again.
The IT glitch also hit Gatwick and caused huge queues as hundreds of thousands of families start going away for their summer holidays. Long queues snaked across terminal buildings as irate passengers said BA workers were nowhere to be seen or ‘pretending to be on the phone’.
In a series of social media posts, Mr Schofield said: ‘In the queue two hours and not one member of staff to talk to. Love you usually, today you are s***’.
He added: ‘There’s no announcements, no info when the planes left, no help at all’.